Jaidyn Vanschoiack knew she didn’t want to attend a big university.
“I wanted to go somewhere I could feel a sense of community,” she said. “I wanted to be able to walk into lunch and always be able to know somebody. I didn’t want to feel lost and overwhelmed like many students do on big campuses.”
The Beatrice native was researching occupational therapy programs in Nebraska for a high school career education class when she found College of Saint Mary.
“I did more research on it. I came to campus and toured,” she said. “I really liked it here. The small campus was a perfect fit.”
While she was researching CSM, Jaidyn discovered the University’s prestigious Marie Curie Scholarship, which provides significant financial support and resources to outstanding young women pursuing study in STEM majors – biology, chemistry, math, or human biology. So, she applied.
Marie Curie Scholars receive up to $20,000 annually for four years in gift aid. In addition to having access to substantial financial resources and facilities, participants also receive free tutoring, have opportunities for undergraduate research, and have access to top programs like the National Institute of Health and NASA research fellowships.
Jaidyn was at her high school soccer game when she found out she was awarded the scholarship.
“All of my family was there. They were holding a check, a sweatshirt and flowers,” she said. “That’s when I knew I was definitely coming to school here.”
The biology major moved to campus, where she met her fellow Marie Curie Scholars, many of whom became her friends. Jaidyn said she enjoys living in the residence hall on campus.
“I like being close to everybody and knowing everything is where I need it to be,” she said.
The small class sizes have allowed Jaidyn to build good relationships with her professors.
“The professors know you by name. They know if I’m struggling or ahead,” she said. “I love being able to walk into my professor’s office at any time and ask for help if I’m stuck on a problem.”
In addition to her academics, Jaidyn considered playing soccer at CSM. Then, she met the Flames Swim Team. Jaidyn had competed for her high school swim team, including in the Nebraska State Championship Finals.
“I really liked them,” she said of the CSM Swim Team. “They were so nice and welcoming and ready to have me in their program. Once I got the scholarship, I knew I needed to do this, too.”
Jaidyn had a successful first season in the pool. She received the most improved swimmer from Coach Mykenzie Leehy and most improved athlete for the 2022-23 season at the Flames athletics banquet. She was also voted captain by her teammates.
“Her spot of becoming a captain solidified that she was and will always be a leader through her years at CSM,” Leehy said. “Moving into now her sophomore year, Jaidyn still carries the same energy as when she was a freshman. I can count on Jaidyn to have great effort and attitude every time she walks onto the pool deck. She has grown in her swimming and has continued to succeed in the classroom. I am excited to continue to watch her throughout her years at CSM.”
Jaidyn is president of the Green Team, which focuses on sustainable practices on a campus-wide scale. The group fundraises for projects and raises awareness about different environmental issues and practices through events for students. Jaidyn is considering a minor in sustainability.
“I’ve always had an interest in nature, the planet and how we can take care of it,” said Jaidyn, who is a also secretary of the STEMinists and a member of Do Unto Others (DUO).
After graduation, Jaidyn wants to continue in CSM’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate.